Sunday, March 21, 2010

Petitioning the Prime Minister

Ok, you’re going to have to follow me on this one.  I promise it will all make sense at the end.  I propose that we move the capital of Australia from Canberra to Sydney.  I am proposing this for two main reasons.  Reason one:  Canberra is little and boring and the general consensus among Aussies is that it completely sucks.  Reason two:  THERE IS NOT A SINGLE EFFING ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT IN THE ENTIRE SYDNEY METROPOLITAN AREA.

Seriously- not a single one.  There are tons of Asian restaurants of all ethnicities, and Indian food is abundant.  Middle Eastern food, no matter how offensive tasting it is here, can be found on every corner, and despite their lack of quality, it’s not hard to find a Mexican restaurant either.  Italian food: check.  Chicken sandwiches:  check.  Kosher bakeries: check.  I even found one restaurant that serves macaroni and cheese.  Who knew?!?

That leaves Ethiopian food.  Coming from Seattle, I’ve been accustomed to tasty Ethiopian food, brought to us by Seattle’s surprisingly large Ethiopian and Eritrean communities.  But there aren’t any African people here.  There are barely black people here of any background.  Seriously.  I’ve seen maybe six black people during my entire two months in Sydney.

And that means no Ethiopian food for me.  Now, they have a small handful of African restaurants here, but those are more African fusion – blending foods from all parts of Africa, including Morocco, which while geographically a part of Africa, really ought to be grouped with Middle Eastern food.  I don’t trust those restaurants.  Any restaurant that serves Ethiopian food alongside cous cous is completely whack.

I want my big ass plate of doro tibs and kike and gomen and doro wot and misser wot and shiro wot and all of the other wots – sitting on a big piece of injera – and I don’t want them giving me utensils – I want to use my hands (after washing them of course) and the injera just like they do in normal Ethiopian restaurants.  Can you eat cous cous with your hands?  No.

Canberra - which is like a hut village compared to Sydney – has THREE Ethiopian restaurants.  Three!  And there’s not one in Sydney!  If we move the capital of Australia from Canberra to Sydney, that would mean that the Ethiopian embassy would have to move here, and with it, bring some Ethiopian people.  Then, those Ethiopian people would open up an Ethiopian restaurant here in my neighborhood.

Sounds logical, right?

I’m starting a petition to send to Prime Minister Rudd down there in Canberra.  I want the capital moved to Sydney effective immediately.  Who’s with me?

Monday, March 15, 2010

20% Fewer Muppets

Sydney is truly an international city – with a higher percentage of foreign born people than any other city in the world.  This is clearly evidenced by my house.  Welcome to Cleveland Street – it’s like Sesame Street, but with 20% fewer Muppets.

This is mighty complicated, so please try to follow me.  I live in a 3 bedroom Terrace House – which is basically a townhouse.  For a further explanation, see Wikipedia:

The room I occupy was vacated by two straight Spanish boys – both from Barcelona – who were here studying English.  When I first moved in, the other two rooms were occupied by a gay Aussie boy who worked in some sort of IT-related type thing for a bank and a Brazilian girl - of Japanese descent – who is a graphic designer.  The Spanish boys were off traveling for a month and now have moved back in – now occupying the room recently vacated by the Aussie boy, who has moved back up to Brisbane to go to grad school.  Do you follow me?  So now we’re up to four people, but one of the Spanish boys has finished his English studies and is looking for work, which will probably take him out of Sydney since he works in mining/engineering.  It’s all a bit complicated, but it’s the true Sydney experience.  Many of the people who I’ve met are very jealous that I live in a Terrace House – and I’ll admit that’s it a really great house – but I’d much rather find me a sugar daddy and live in some penthouse apartment somewhere.  A boy can dream, right?

Our house is situated in Surry Hills – a cute gay neighborhood right near the CBD (Central Business District aka “Downtown” for us Americans).  There are tons of shops, restaurants, bars, etc. in Surry Hills, and we’re a three minute walk to the main drag: Crown Street.

Ok, fine.  Fine.  I’m lying.  Technically… technically… we’re not in Surry Hills.  Do I dare say it?  Do I?  We’re in… Redfern.  Please don’t tell anyone.  Please.

Ok, so our house sits on the border of Redfern and Surry Hills – literally, Cleveland Street is the border.  Redfern has a stigma and a history associated with it – it was where the government moved all of Sydney’s Aborigines to back in the day, thus resulting in higher crime rates and an overall sketchy feel to the low income neighborhood.  That, of course, is another story for another day, and probably one that you should hear from an Aussie rather than from me.

But Redfern is gentrifying and becoming increasingly nice, especially along the northern border and eastern edge of the neighborhood.  Since we live in the northeast corner of Redfern, it’s quite nice and safe – except for the rowdy Aussies going to or coming back from a cricket match.  The stadium is a quick walk from our house.  Aside from my street, I’ve never actually even walked through Redfern.  There’s no need when the always happenin’ Surry Hills is right here.  Plus, Redfern isn’t on the way to anything.  Surry Hills is all that separates us from the CBD, Darlinghurst (the main gay neighborhood), the infamous Kings Cross, and buses to Bondi Beach.  Why would I ever need or want to go in the other direction?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Super Bowl Monday?

If the Super Bowl is held on Sunday, then what do you call it if it is held on a Monday?  I propose we call it the Muper  Bowl.  That way we keep the alliteration that NFL executives were obviously going for when they came up with the whole Super Bowl Sunday name.

Since the time change in Sydney is fucking ridiculous (16 hours ahead of Miami; 19 ahead of Los Angeles), I ended up watching the Muper Bowl LIVE at 10:30AM… on a Monday… at an American bar in the CBD… slightly drunk.  Now, 10:30 on a Monday morning is a bit early to pound down a few beers, but that didn’t stop me.  Sadly, they didn’t have the same great commercials that they do in the States, but we drowned our sorrows over that with a few more Coronas and then went to the beach to soak up the sun.  So it turned out ok.

For the Oscars - those were at 12:30 in the afternoon on Monday here this past week - I stayed home and watched the ceremonies, but what is going to happen when I get a job?

Can I treat the Muper Bowl and Oscars like American holidays – as important as Thanksgiving – and demand that my future employer give me those days off to celebrate (with pay)?  Or am I doomed to have to run out to the bar on my lunch hour to watch part of next year’s Muper Bowl, get sloppy drunk, come back to my desk at 1pm, and make some giant mistake which causes the company to lose a ton of money?  Or will I have to sneak into the break room during the Oscars and pretend there’s something in my eye when I start tearing up because Sandra Bullock won Best Actress?  OMG what if there’s no TV in the break room?!?!?!?

If the entire state of Victoria declares a public holiday for a horse race (seriously, they do), then I think the Muper Bowl and Oscars should be paid public holidays for me and other American expats.

Who wants to help me negotiate my employment contract?

Also, who wants to give me employment?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Reply from Chipotle

Yes, yes, I actually sent my "Dear Chipotle" post to Chipotle via the customer feedback portion of their website.  And you know what?

They responded with the BEST E-MAIL EVER!

They have a sense of humor at Chipotle, and they must have really liked my feedback because the girl who responded totally CCed like 10 people on the reply.  Sadly, they won't be opening a Chipotle in Australia anytime soon, but I like to think that I've at least planted the seed.  We'll see what happens.  Anyway, here in its entirety is the response from the lovely Chipotle:

Dear Phill,

We are doing great. Thanks for asking. It sounds like things are going pretty well down under as well, sans the lack of utterly delicious burritos. I'm sorry to hear you've been missing us. I have to say two months is a pretty long time and I can definitely sympathize. I wish I could be of more immediate help, but we don't have any official plans for Australia at this time. However, I'll be sure to pass along your plight to our real estate team so they can give it some thought.

In the meantime, since it has finally begin to melt the snow around here, we'll remain envious of your tan. It's sloppy and still pretty cold, so you definitely have us on that one. But, we can warm up with a nice burrito so I guess we can call it even.

As for your burrito, you have excellent taste in toppings. It's my exact order except I usually opt for the pinto beans. Everything else is exactly the same. But I digress... Unfortunately, as much as we'd like to, we just can't mail you a burrito. It's kind of a health code thing. Since we can't follow it's progress across the sea, we can't guarantee that it'll get to you intact and safe to eat.

At any rate, I hope this note finds you doing well and I hope if your travels bring you back to the States you'll drop in and see us. While we are doing well, we do miss you and we'd love to see you again.


Chipotle Mexican Grill

Since they couldn't actually send me a burrito, they should have at least sent me a coupon for a free one for my next visit to the States.  But they actually did respond (what corporation does that?!?!?), so I won't hold it against them.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bunk Beds Be Gone

Tonight, after 24 grueling nights of feeling like a four year-old, I will once again feel like a man.  Ok, fine, more like a fourteen year-old man.  Whatever.

The room I am renting was vacated by two nice Spanish boys who were sharing it while studying English here in Sydney.  I’ll post more on the roommate situation in the next few days.  Anyway, they were kind enough to leave all of their furniture for me to use, including the bunk beds they purchased for $3.50 at Ikea.

So, since moving into my new home, I’ve had this feeling that I am a four year-old child.  I was contemplating getting some glow in the dark decorations to glue to the bottom side of the upper bunk so that I could fall asleep on the bottom bunk looking at some fluorescent stars, but in the end, a better plan was devised.

Coles, our local national chain supermarket, sells a shitty made-in-China handsaw imitation type thing for $5.  So it was purchased, and the top bunk was surgically sawed off from the bottom bunk.  I now have half a bunk bed in my room.  Very classy.

Since no lesbians were around to assist, one of my heterosexual male housemates did the actual sawing while I supervised and took apart a few screws.  In the process, the saw itself lost one of the screws which keeps its handle intact and managed to cut my housemate with the dull side of the blade.  Thanks, China.  But in the end, the process went fairly smoothly and the obtrusive top bunk is now out of sight and out of mind.

The remaining bottom bunk is still only a twin size, so my feet hang off a little.  It sort of feels like a teenager’s room now, but it’s a step in the right direction.  And it’ll be super great in the unlikely event that I bring a boy home to “watch a movie with.”

But it’s only for a few months.  And it was free.  And I like free.